A writer’s worst enemy
Any writer understands that procrastination is the scourge of us all, without it we’d all be content with the quantity of our work, right? We’ve all done it at some time or another, I know I have. Many times I’ve told myself it won’t matter if I just have one more go at my new computer game, or watch the programme I recorded on TV last night. There will always be another chance to write my best-seller tomorrow.
But will there?
I hope, for all of you the answer to that question is a resounding yes, but there is no guarantee. The ability to write well and put into words something that other people want to read and enjoy reading, is a gift that’s not given to us all. You’re among the lucky ones and I urge you to use your skills to their full potential. After all, you could be like me and have it all taken away, which is why I want to tell you my story, in the hope that you will add it to your literary armoury. Then, the next time you get the urge to do something else when you could be writing, you’ll think of me and use your time productively.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not looking for your sympathy. I genuinely believe that my MS has opened as many doors as it closed. However, if I’d had a choice, I’d have removed this particular door from its hinges to ensure it could never close. Unfortunately I had no influence over which way my MS progressed.
My love of writing began when I joined the Royal Navy back in the Dark Ages. It was long before computers and the Internet, when time and paper were at a premium and every word was precious. I had to think about what I was writing because there was no delete button on my writing pad. During those long periods at sea I’d write letters to anyone I thought would write back, telling them in great detail, what I’d seen and done. Except my mother of course, I spared her the finer detail, because the exploits of young sailors ashore aren’t for a mother to read about.
It was before I’d studied creative writing, but even back then I committed my senses to paper to tell my stories in the most powerful way I could. I became a slave to good grammar and could spot a spelling mistake from fifty paces. Then, like many writers I progressed to poetry and short stories, and I even had some small pieces of my work published. I was hardly Stephen King, but I felt a buzz every time I saw something I’d written in a genuine newspaper or magazine.
Following those small successes I moved on to bigger projects. My first crime novel ‘Time to Think’ is available on Amazon and my second is almost at the editing stage. Yes, I’ve had my fair share of rejection slips, but I have always believed life’s too short to worry about what a nameless editor thinks of my writing and I learnt to move on.
In short I loved to write and couldn’t imagine going anywhere without at least a pencil and paper, to scribble my observations on for use when I got home. Sadly in 2002 it all began to slip away with my diagnosis of Primary Progressive Multiple Sclerosis. It was a bombshell I can tell you, but (cliché alert) I promised my family that I might have MS, but it didn’t have me. I have kept that promise and after getting over our early shock we carried on with our lives by adapting to the pressures of my condition. To this day we live life our way, not the MS way. We just use wheelchairs and hoists to do so, it's no big deal.
So what’s my point? Well, simply it's that this is the last piece of creative writing of any length that I will complete. My brain remains as alert as ever and I still see and hear incidents that I instantly recognise as potential for a story, but my tired body is weak. A passion for writing still fills my every waking moment, but my fingers are too stiff to transform my thoughts into written words. I used to think it would never happen to me but it has, so I urge you if not for yourself, do this for me. If you are a writer who lets other preoccupations get in the way, don’t procrastinate, get writing. I may not be able to write, but I can still read and like millions of other people, I want to read what you have to say. You have a special talent and you owe it to yourself and people like me to embrace it. Take it from me, your future is not an exact science and the skills you hold are too precious to waste on procrastination.
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Eric @ www.ericjgates.com